Choosing a Dry Shady Cool Weather Grass

The best choices for dry shady cool weather grass would be…

  • Fine Fescues
  • Tall Fescues
  • Wheatgrass

No grass grows well in deep shade, but these three will do well in spots that get some sunlight and plenty of skylight.

The best shady grasses endure high mowing. Longer grass blades have more surface area to allow photosynthesis in low light.

Shady areas tend to be dry. When the lawn is surrounded by trees, the tree roots compete with grass roots for soil moisture. The best drought tolerant grasses usually have long roots, which help reach any available soil moisture.

Fine Fescues

  • Good shade and drought tolerance.
  • Good disease resistance and heat tolerance.
  • Low nitrogen requirements.
  • Fair wear tolerance.
  • Group made up of hard fescue, sheep fescue, creeping red fescue, and chewings fescue.
  • Medium to dark green. Needle fine texture.

Tall Fescues

  • Excellent drought tolerance and good shade tolerance.
  • Toughest grass seed for cool weather.
  • The coarsest texture of any cool season grass, as well as the lowest shoot density.
  • Resists insect feeding and has extensive root system that efficiently draws on soil moisture—making it a good candidate if insects and drought are a problem.
  • Recuperative potential is quite low because it does not spread laterally.
  • Low nitrogen requirements.
  • I am a big fan of the Turf Type Tall Fescue.


  • Does not look as good as other traditional grasses, but it is very hardy.
  • Can survive drought and very cold weather.
  • Requires little watering. If it turns brown, it will green up quickly with water.
  • Moderate shade tolerance and poor heat tolerance.
  • Varieties include Crested, Fairway, and Western.
  • Traditionally used for pasture grass and grown for hay.
  • Sometimes used in Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Central Canada.

Return from Dry Shady Cool Weather Grass to How to Choose Grass Seed.